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Restoring the link between people and woodlands

Woodland theatre comes to RSPB Ynys-Hir

Guest post:

Tree & Wood / Coed & Pren

Hydref 4ydd-7fed / October 4th – 7th 2018, 7.30pm.

RSPB Ynys-Hir Nature Reserve. Machynlleth


Tree and Wood is a new outdoor, immersive performance by Jony Easterby, in collaboration with singer song writers Nathaniel Mann, Emily Williams, Sound Designer Matthew Olden alongside musicians Pippa Taylor, Pete Flood and Sam Robinson.

The work encompasses physical performance, sound and light installation, and songs both old and new. Set in the forest at dusk to dark, it  explores the immediate tangible experience of trees – smell, touch, sounds, using the forest as its backdrop. It invites participants of all ages to take a journey into the heart of the forest, wrapped in darkness and branches to explore our relationship over time with the trees and woods for which we depend on for our survival both past and present.

Set in the forest at the onset of darkness the audience are invited to move through the trees to find themselves exploring a montage of image sound, light and song.

Jony Easterby brings a year of research and experimentation to the development of ‘Tree and Wood’, supported by a Creative Wales Award  and production grant from the Arts Council of Wales and Oxford Contemporray Music (OCM).

This research has been developed along eight historical narrative themes – Arcadia, The Cut, The Greenwood Tyrant, Strangely like War, Industrialisation, Deforestation, Return to Eden, Sylviculture.

Tickets available from: Aberystwyth Arts Centre (www.aberystwythartscentre.co.uk) and Deco Shop Machynlleth (in person).


Bangor University study reveals interesting results

Under tall tree canopies in Wales there are people enjoying woodland walks, campfire cooking, outdoor crafts, conservation and mindfulness activities. And the difference this is making to their lives is tangible.

Early results from a three-year study by Bangor University are revealing the positive impact on health and wellbeing when people get out and about in the woods. The study by Heli Gittins based on Actif Woods Wales programme run by Coed Lleol, the Small Woods Association in Wales, is revealing interesting findings.

Heli Gittins, PHD Researcher, School of Natural Sciences at Bangor University, said:

“Thank you to everyone who has taken part in the Actif Woods Wales research – it has been truly wonderful meeting you all and visiting all the different projects. I’ve been pond dipping at Ynys-Hir nature reserve in Ceredigion where we found a newt, eating campfire chilli wraps at Skewen in Neath Port Talbot and learning about how the brain works and doing some mindfulness practice at Cyfarthfa Park in Merthyr Tydfil, to name but a few!”

Baseline questionnaires, follow up interviews and focus groups with 95 participants so far are beginning to show connections with woodland activities, confidence and career building. The fact that programme participants are aged over 25, long-term unemployed or economically inactive, and either experiencing a work limiting health condition, are a carer or aged over 54 years, makes these early results even more profound. The PHD study also highlights the key role of professional mentorship by Coed Lleol staff who run Actif Woods Wales programmes on behalf of Small Woods in Wales.

Amie Andrews, Coed Lleol Manager, said:

Coed Lleol are proud to support woodland wellbeing research by Bangor University at a crucial time when GP interest in social prescribing is growing. Woodlands offer tangible and life-changing benefits to all, including nurturing confidence, community, exercise and skill development, particularly to those with work limiting health conditions. We hope that this research will help us to develop our programme, offer opportunities for future partnership and crucially change people’s lives through woodland activities.”

Research on the benefits of taking a dose of nature are well established. However, how woodland programmes impact on people’s longer-term behaviour and habits around independent use of the countryside is less well known. With expert guidance from Bangor University’s Schools of Natural Sciences (Dr Sophie Wynne-Jones) and Psychology (Dr Val Morrison), this study aims to reveal new knowledge. The study also hopes to inform organisations such as the Woodland Trust, woodland owners and health agencies about promoting the use of woodlands to increase the well-being of the nation.

Christine Tansey, Research and Evidence Co-ordinator at the Woodland Trust, said.

“Heli Gittins’ research is of great interest to the Woodland Trust. Our goal is to see a UK rich in woods and trees for people and wildlife, and this research partnership with Coed Lleol will help improve our understanding of the ways in which people can benefit from woodland. Evidence from this study will also reveal how the independent use of woods may change through participating in woodland activities, information which we can use to inform our work.

This study is funded by KESS (Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships) and the Woodland Trust. It was first introduced in the Small Woods Magazine in Summer 2017, on page 5 (click photo below to open pdf). Research will finish in October 2019 when a report with become available.

Find out more about woodland health and wellbeing research.

Small Woods Magazine (Summer 2017, p5): Woods and well-being – research sets out to measure benefits.


Vote for Actif Woods Aberystwyth to bag a share of Tesco’s bag fund


Actif Woods Aberystwyth is bidding to bag a massive cash boost from the Tesco Bags of Help initiative, with grants of £4,000, £2,000 and £1,000 raised from carrier bag sales in Tesco stores. Three community projects in every Tesco region have been shortlisted to receive the cash award and shoppers are being invited to head along to Tesco stores to vote for who they think should take away the top grant.

Actif Woods Aberystwyth is one of the groups on the shortlist. The programme helps adults in Ceredigion to improve their health and wellbeing through woodland activities. It is part of the Actif Woods Wales programme which is run across Wales by Coed Lleol, the Small Woods Association in Wales. Activities include woodland walks, bushcraft, conservation, campfire cooking, foraging, mindfulness and more. Adults qualify to take part in if they are aged 25 + and long-term unemployed or economically inactive, AND a carer, experiencing a health condition or aged over 54. There are three woodland groups in Ceredigion:

  • Woodland Walkers (Wednesdays),
  • MIND Aberystwyth Woodland Group (Thursdays)
  • Tai Ceredigion housing scheme sessions (Fridays)

To find out more and get involved visit: www.coedlleol.org.uk/actif-woods-groups/aberystwyth

Amie Andrews, Coed Lleol Manager said: ‘Woodlands offer tangible benefits to all, particularly people with work limiting health conditions. Actif Woods Aberystwyth supports woodland health and wellbeing activities for adults that nurture community, confidence, skill development, exercise and environmental awareness. Crucially these woodland opportunities change people’s lives’.

Voting is open in all Tesco stores in from Saturday 1st September to Wednesday 31st October 2018 and customers will cast their vote using a token given to them at the check-out in store each time they shop. Vote for Actif Woods Aberystwyth in the following Aberystwyth Tesco Stores:

Aberystwyth North Parade Express SY23 2JN:  www.tesco.com/store-locator/uk/?bid=4465
Aberystwyth Superstore SY23 1PB: www.tesco.com/store-locator/uk/?bid=4630

Tesco’s Bags of Help project, supported by Groundwork, has already delivered over £56 million to more than 16,000 projects across Britain. Alec Brown, Head of Community at Tesco, said:

“Bags of Help has been a fantastic success and we’ve been overwhelmed by the response from customers. It’s such a special scheme because it’s local people who decide how the money will be spent in their community. There are some fantastic projects on the shortlists and we can’t wait to see these come to life in hundreds of communities.”

Funding is available to community groups and charities looking to fund local projects that bring benefits to communities. Anyone can nominate a project and organisations can apply online. To find out more visit www.tesco.com/bagsofhelp.

Spread the word. Download the poster and share!


We are recruiting! Join the Coed Lleol team

Coed Lleol and Actif Woods Wales

Research and Evaluation Officer
South Wales Coordinator

Two exciting opportunities promoting people’s health and wellbeing through woodland activities.
Research and Evaluation Officer £24,530 pro rata 1.5 days per week
South Wales Coordinator £24,530 pro rata 2 days per week
Deadline for both roles: 9am 17th September, Interviews early October
For further information and applications see: www.coedlleol.org.uk/about-us/jobs 

Coed Lleol a Choed Actif Cymru

Swyddog Ymchwil a Gwerthuso
Cydlynydd De Cymru

Dau gyfle cyffrous yn hyrwyddo iechyd a llesiant pobl drwy weithgareddau coetir.
Swyddog Ymchwil a Gwerthuso £24,530 pro rata 1.5 diwrnod yr wythnos
Cydlynydd De Cymru £24,530 pro rata 2 ddiwrnod yr wythnos
Dyddiad cau ar gyfer y ddwy swydd: 9yb 17eg Medi, Cyfweliadau dechrau mis Hydref
Am ragor o wybodaeth a ffurflenni cais, ewch i: www.coedlleol.org.uk/about-us/jobs

Social Forestry Development Tender opportunity with Coed Lleol

Tender for development of Social Forestry learning pathway focusing on the Social Forestry community on Anglesey

Coed Lleol are pleased to announce we have been awarded funds to develop Social Forestry Learning pathways, with an Anglesey focus.
We are looking for someone to help with this work, as a short term contract – details are in the document you can download here:

SF Tender document – English (pdf).

Tendr CC – Cymraeg (pdf)

The development project needs to be completed by the end of March 2017. The budget for this work is £4.5K

To apply for this opportunity please put together (in Welsh or English) a delivery proposal, timescales and how you would incorporate an Anglesey focus, in a minimum of 500 words. Also include your skills and experience in this area of work; you can submit a longer application if you wish.

For any questions and to apply please send an email to amieandrews@smallwoods.org.uk
The deadline to apply for the tender is midday on Monday 13th February.

Job vacancy with Actif Woods Neath Port Talbot & Swansea

Neath Port Talbot and Swansea Woodland Activities Mentor and Working with Nature events coordinator – Maternity cover

An opportunity has arisen for a maternity cover post for the Actif Woods Wales Woodland Mentor for Neath Port Talbot and Swansea. The job description below also includes the Working with Nature Events Coordinator role; the aim is to recruit one person for both jobs but alternative options will be considered.

Details and the application form can be found on the jobs page HERE. The deadline for applications is Thursday 3rd November at 5pm.

Job vacancy with Actif Woods Gwynedd!

Gwynedd Woodland Activities Mentor – IMPORTANT NOTICE: If anyone tried to submit an application for this post between 3pm Weds 29th June and 11am today (Thursday 30th June), please contact us (01654 700061) as there were some technical problems with our email during this time – thanks!

An opportunity has arisen for a Woodland Mentor for Gwynedd, a new project area for Actif Woods Wales. Deadline for applications is Thursday 30th June at 11am. Applications are welcomed by application form in English or Welsh. For more details contact amieandrews@smallwoods.org.uk

Gwynedd Mentor Job Advert – English ac Cymraeg

Gwybodaeth Cymraeg

Swydd Ddisgrifiad Coed Actif Cymru Gwynedd

SWA job application form – Gwynedd Woodland activity Mentor (Cymraeg)

Information in English

Actif Woods Wales Gwynedd Mentor role description

SWA Job application form – Gwynedd Woodland mentor (English)

Stories of Change in Treherbert

The pop up shop in Treherbert that the Actif Woods Wales project there has been involved with as part of the Stories of Change project was open over the summer, with 50/60 people attending each day, contributing and listening to stories about energy use and the future of the area. This project brings together people from a range of disciplines across several universities to work with stories – in those case Stories of Everyday Change. See the link to the blog below for more info.



Merthyr Woodland Taster Day

Thanks to everyone who came and participated in the Actif Woods Wales taster day at Cyfartha castle on Thursday 10th September. The sun shone on a lovely day and it was fantastic to meet so many people with an interest in health and wellbeing through woodland activities. The Merthyr webpage is HERE and the facebook page (where you can see photos from the day) is here: Merthyr facebook page


Stakeholder days in Gwynedd and Flintshire!

Stakeholder meeting date announced for Gwynedd (one of the new area we’re hoping to bring Actif Woods Wales to next year), to be held in Caernarfon on the 8th July.

Also Flintshire (another hopeful new area for Actif Woods Wales) on the 26th July at Wepre Park, Connagh’s Quay.

Contact amieandrews@smallwoods.org.uk to book your free place for either day. There will also be meetings in all existing areas of the project too. All welcome!

Gwynedd poster:

CaernarfonTaster day poster_EnglishCaernarfonTaster day poster_Cymraeg

Agenda for Stakeholder Workshop Gwynedd_CymraegAgenda for Stakeholder Workshop Gwynedd_English

Flintshire poster:

Flintshire Taster day poster EngFlintshire Taster day poster Cymraeg

Social Forestry OCN Course to run in Denbighshire in June

The Social Forestry OCN course will explore the use of woodlands to promote social and human wellbeing, and will this time be offered at the Woodland Skills Centre in Denbighshire, in June. It will be accredited by OCN (3 credits at level 3).

For further information contact Kate Hamilton (Coed Lleol) katehamilton@smallwoods.org.uk 08454 560342
Subsidised places may be available to current Social Forestry practitioners by negotiation – please contact Kate if you wish to discuss this.

Social Forestry OCN course June 2015_bilingual flyer

Eng p1Eng p2

Cymraeg p1Cymraeg p2

RFS Excellence in Forestry Awards to showcase Wales

The Royal Forestry Society RFS Excellence in Forestry Awards will be in Wales for 2015 with woodland owners and managers across Wales being invited to enter six categories, with cash prizes available.

Among them is a special award, Woodland Creation Excellence, being sponsored by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) for woodlands between 1-10-years-old. To enter, woodland must have been planted to achieve one or more ecosystem services objectives – from timber, water quality or biomass to biodiversity and resilience.

There are four additional categories covering a range of woodlands managed for differing objectives:

·         Duke of Cornwall (Multipurpose award)
·         RFS Silviculture
·         Small Woodland
·         Community Forest

In addition, a Schools Award is open to educational organisations from nurseries to sixth forms involved in projects that incorporate woodland management, timber and its uses in their learning.

Deadline for entries is Friday 6 March 2015.

The Awards will be presented in July at the RFS’s magnificent Coast Redwoods woodlands in Leighton near Welshpool, the Charles Ackers Redwood Gove and Naylor Pinetum. There is a top prize of £1000 in each category and runners up prizes of £500 are up for offer.

For more details see http://www.rfs.org.uk/awards/rfs-excellence-in-forestry-awards

Jack Whitaker Jack Whittaker, RFS President

Actif Woods Wales in the national press this weekend

Following a visit from a journalist and photographer to the Actif Woods Neath Port Talbot group the article will be out in the Telegraph this weekend – so go and have a look in your local newsagent if you’d like to see the group featured in the national press! (we will post an electronic link on here after it is published). Below are a few photos from the day as a taster.

Tea break NPT woodworking group IMG-20150113-WA0014

Press coverage of Autumn seminar

Here’s a short piece on the Aberystwyth Autumn seminar that was featured in the Cambrian News the following week.
The final in our series of local seminars is due to be held in Angelsey on Friday the 6th March – watch this space for more details soon!


First Aid in the Outdoors Course in Machynlleth

For anyone from the Aberystwyth or Machynlleth areas or nearby there are a couple of places left on our woodland based first aid in the outdoors course near Machynlleth – 2nd, 5th and 12th December. Open to all – you don’t have to be part of the Actif Woods Wales project. £120 for the 3 days. Contact Jo for more details or to book a place. It will be a hands on, outdoor, practical experience leading to two qualifications; Emergency First Aid in the Workplace and Outdoor and Forestry First Aid.

First aid in the outdoors Dec 2014

First aid in the outdoors Dec 2014-page-0

Autumn Seminars are happening!

Our series of sem­i­nars are starting this Tuesday to update on the project at the mid point of its cur­rent phase, pre­sent­ing the results of the eval­u­a­tion to date (also in con­junc­tion with Cardiff Met uni­ver­sity) and look to the future, and sus­tain­abil­ity after 2016, when cur­rent fund­ing will come to an end. Also with a chance to see prac­ti­cal activ­ity demon­stra­tions in each area. Let Jo know if you’d like to come to any of these (free) events, as there are still a few places available — agendas can be downloaded from the links below.

Aberystwyth — 4th November
Aberystwyth Actif Woods Wales Autumn Seminar agenda – Nov 4th 2014

Treherbert and Neath Port Talbot joint seminar – 7th November, in Treherbert
Autumn Seminar agenda – Nov 7th 2014 – Treherbert

Wrexham — 14th November
Wrexham Actif Woods Wales Autumn Seminar agenda – Nov 14th 2014

Anglesey – Spring 2015

As Anglesey started later than the other areas a seminar will be held in the Spring 2015, which will be the mid point of that project

Volunteer opportunity in Aberystwyth

We are looking to recruit a volunteer to work with our existing Actif Woods Wales woodland activity group in Aberystwyth (with a possibility of progressing to an assistant leader). This will be a great chance to gain experience and skills in working in the outdoors with people with a range of health conditions. The group currently meet weekly for 2-3 hours on Wednesdays (see current group information) and travel to different woodlands around Aberystwyth for health and wellbeing walks and a range of woodland activities. These can include nature ID, conservation work, outdoor cooking and crafts. More details about the Actif Woods Wales project are attached, and the group can be seen in action in the short film here:
The successful person will need to undergo a DBS check, paid for by Small Woods. Training and development opportunities will be available.
We may also have some volunteer opportunities with other newer groups forming in the Aberystwyth area.

To apply for this voluntary post please complete the application form below and return it to jocooper@smallwoods.org.uk by the 16th October. do let anyone who could be interested know about this. Thanks!

Job Advert – Aberyswyth volunteer

Volunteer role description – English version

Volunteer Application Form

Autumn seminars in all project areas

Coed Lleol will be holding a series of seminars this autumn to update on the project at the mid point of its current phase, presenting the results of the evaluation to date (also in conjunction with Cardiff Met university) and look to the future, and sustainability after 2016, when current funding will come to an end. Also with a chance to see practical activity demonstrations. Let Jo know if you’d like to come to any of these (free) events – agenda from the link below.

  • Anglesey – 14th October
  • Aberystwyth – 4th November
  • Treherbert and Neath Port Talbot joint seminar – 7th November
  • Wrexham – 14th November

Actif Woods Wales Autumn Seminars 2014 – bilingual

Actif Woods Wales Aberystwyth groups on film!

On a sunny July day NRW film maker Luke Maggs came to document the two longstanding Actif Woods groups in Aberystwyth – the open Wednesday group, and the MIND Aberystwyth group.

The resulting video below was the outcome:

We hope you agree this short film really gives a flavour of what these two groups in Aberystwyth get up to, and how it works for participants.

NRW have also asked for the following text to accompany it everywhere we share this:

Music from: bensound.com
The Actif Woods Wales Project was brought to you by:
* Collaboration & partnership working (public and third sector)
* A clear focus on identified need (and being run in areas of greatest need)
* Longer term investment, and
* Outcomes monitoring to support this way of working
naturalresourceswales.gov.uk & coedlleol.org.uk
To find out more about this project specifically please contact:
Amie Andrews (Project Coordinator) amieandrews@smallwoods.org.uk
Jo Cooper (Assistant Coordinator) jocooper@smallwoods.org.uk
Kate Hamilton (Training and Research) katehamilton@smallwoods.org.uk

The first year of the new phase of Actif Woods Wales

It’s been a busy year for Actif Woods Wales, with recruitment of staff and volunteers, development of our Monitoring and Evaluation system, as well as setting up groups and activities to meet the health needs of participants and partner organisations on the ground.  We’ve learnt a huge amount as well as having some challenging moments, and plenty of good ones too! Here are the Actif Woods Wales reports.  The Year 1 report gives a summary of our main achievements from April 2013 – March 2014.  The project summary outlines the main partners we are working with in each area at this moment in time – this will be updated quarterly.

Actif Woods Wales Year 1 Report

Actif Woods Wales summary – May 2014_bilingual

Please do contact us if you have any questions, suggestions or comments.  amieandrews@smallwoods.org.uk

New Introduction to Social Forestry course offered by Coed Lleol

We are proud to announce we are launching a new Introduction to Social Forestry course, which will be offered for the first time in September 2014. It has been developed through a collaborative process convened by Coed Lleol and will be accredited by OCN (3 credits at level 3).

This exciting new course will explore the use of woodlands to promote social and human wellbeing, and is initially being offered at the Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth.

Participants will be given the tools to start applying Social Forestry ideas in practice and it will be delivered within a woodland setting, using a range of participatory and reflective learning methods, to build on existing skills and develop new ones.

More details are on the flyer, which can be downloaded from this link, or viewed by clicking the pictures below:
Social Forestry OCN flyer

To book  visit the Small Woods booking page for OCN in social forestry

For further information contact Kate Hamilton (Coed Lleol) katehamilton@smallwoods.org.uk 08454 560342
Subsidised places may be available to current Social Forestry practitioners by negotiation – please contact Kate if you wish to discuss this.

Flyer page 1Flyer page 2

New Local Project Officers

A warm welcome to Anna Stickland, who has taken over from Ceri Nicholas in Treherbert.


In Anglesey John Pritchard, currently part of the Let’s Walk Cymru team, will be starting work as local project officer for Anglesey in
January 2014.

Meet the team

It can be good to put a name to a face so here are the current Coed Lleol team (from left to right)

Coed Lleol team photo

Maggie Elsey (Neath Port Talbot local officer), Ceri Nicholas (Treherbert local officer), Richard Davies (Natural Resources Wales link person), Amie Andrews (project coordinator), Jo Cooper (Assistant coordinator), Kate Hamilton (Reserch officer), Anne Brenchley (Wrexham local officer), Phil Tidey (Small Woods Association manager)

New monitoring system coming next month!

Research and evaluation is an important part of the Actif Woods Wales project.

For the last two months Kate Hamilton has been working on developing a new, more user friendly system for this.

A major aim of the new system was to use methods that were medically accepted, in the hope that our findings could possibly be incorporated into larger studies, with a bigger number of participants than we have (all anonymously of course!)

Also in response to feedback from participants and activity leaders to make it more user friendly and something that could be useful for the participants to track their progress, or just provide a space to say how they are doing.

New forms have already been trialled in some groups and will be coming soon to all Actif Woods groups- watch this space!

New posters and postcards available!

A new set of postcards and posters have been produced to help spread the word about Actif Woods Wales.

They can be downloaded from the links below, ready to email to people- or if you ask us we can probably send you some to give out too.


Coed Lleol poster Wednesday Actif Woods group_bilingual

Coed Lleol poster Thursday Actif Woods MIND group_bilingual


Coed Lleol poster Treherbert gym group_bilingual


Coming soon!

Neath Port Talbot

Coming soon!

New project officers appointed in Wrexham, Neath Port Talbot and Treherbert

A big welcome to Anne Brenchley (Wrexham), Maggie Elsey (Neath Port Talbot) and **** (Treherbert) who have all just started work as local project officers for the Actif Woods Wales project.

Do get in touch with them if you’re interested to know more, or have any ideas for the Actif Woods project in those areas.

Wrexham and Neath Port Talbot are new project areas so possible groups and activities are very much up for discussion at the moment.

They can be reached at the following contacts:

Anne Brenchley

Anne photo

07530 761743

Maggie Elsey

Maggie photo


**** – t.b.c.